Muzaffarabad, March 30:
A jeep accident left died at least five people including a woman and a minor, while six others wounded including a woman Friday morning near Sardari village in Gurais Valley some 200 km north-east of Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), a police official said.
Muhammad Aslam, the officer in-charge at Janawai Police Choki, told this scribe on phone that the Halmat bound jeep number GHE 65 left the bordering Kel town early this morning with at least 11 people on board. When reached near Sardari town, it plunged into Neelum River, at least 500 meters down the road, while ascending a bumpy slope.
“Five people killed on spot,” Aslam said, adding that those injured were shifted immediately to nearby health facility at Halmat village. Two of those said to be critical, were later shifted to Tehsil Headquarter Hospital in Kel.
According to Attique Qureshi, a local activist who took part in the rescue activities, the residents of the nearby towns reached the accident site immediately and then informed the police and started the rescue operations without waiting for police and authorities to come. All the bodies have been recovered from the river and shifted to nearby hospital for identification and handing over to their families.
“It [the accident] happened at around 9 o’clock in the morning, but we came to know but could not inform the police an hour and a half,” Attique Qureshi said. “The recently launched cellular service remains shut down for most of the time because of power shortage and we or unable to inform and communicate each other,” he added.
Those who died in the accident were identified as Darwesh Khan, Shoukat Abbas, residents of Chitral (KPK) and Jhang (Punjab) respectively; Hajira Bi Bi, Nisar from Hulmat village; and Amir, son of Sain resident of Phulawai village.
Among injured are driver Nazakat Ali, Abdul Mana, Abdul Samad, Riaz and Ayesha Bi Bi.
While the reasons behind the accident remained undeclared, the locals largely believe that obsolete vehicles and poor road infrastructure is the cause behind frequent road accidents.
The Gurais Valley remains disconnected from the rest of the Neelum Valley in winter season because of closure of the only road due snowfall.
Some civil society and youth groups in the area have been protesting recently against the delay in construction of Athmuqam-Taobut road, despite the promises of three former Pakistani prime ministers, Yousaf Raza Gillani, Parvez Ashraf Raja and Mian Nawaz Shrif during their respective visits to the area.
In first three months of 2018, around 25 people have been died in different road accidents—mainly because of poor road infrastructure and outdated public transport—in the hilly areas of AJK.